Tough road ahead: Cougars prepare for competitive regional


Now that the program’s eighth sectional title is secured, Trinity Lutheran High School’s volleyball team turns its focus to the Class A Loogootee Regional.

Boasting four ranked teams, the regional could prove the toughest in its class.

First, the No. 4 Cougars (27-9) will face No. 7 Tecumseh (28-3).

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Neither team has dropped a set in the postseason.

The Cougars swept Crothersville, Shawe Memorial and West Washington to win Sectional 62, while the Braves beat both No. 9 Northeast Dubois and No. 5 Springs Valley in three sets for the Sectional 64 title last weekend.

Both teams have put together impressive résumés.

Since Sept. 6, Trinity has a record of 19-1. In that span, the Cougars went on a 16-match win streak.

The Braves won 18 straight matches from Aug. 23 to Sept. 18. Their losses are to Barr-Reeve, Evansville Mater Dei and Castle.

Trinity coach Faith Wilder-Newland said the Braves will pose a tough challenge.

“I know that they have a lot of height,” she said. “Their right-side hitter is about 6-1 and is playing well. They have a couple good outside hitters, and they block well. I think that will be a test for our height, as well. I think we match up decently well with them physically. We will need to serve tough and try to out-pass them and play better defense. That starts with having a solid block to play good defense around.”

The only common opponent between the two schedules is No. 2 Barr-Reeve (30-5), which plays No. 13 Rock Creek (26-7) in the other half of the regional bracket.

Barr-Reeve beat Tecumseh 26-24, 26-19, 26-24 on Oct. 4, while Trinity lost to the Vikings 25-14, 26-24 at the Barr-Reeve Tournament on Sept. 1.

On Oct. 2, Trinity beat Rock Creek 25-13, 25-17, 25-15.

In last year’s regional, Barr-Reeve beat Trinity 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-20. The Vikings went on to win the regional before falling to Hauser in the semistate.

This season, the Vikings haven’t lost to a Class A school.

Wilder-Newland said Barr-Reeve is a top-tier team.

“They just play great, great defense,” she said. “They also have a pair of hitters that are hard to dig and hard to read. They’ve accumulated the record they have for a reason. They just don’t let the ball hit the floor. They serve tough and are efficient. That would be quite a challenge.”

The Cougars hope to keep the energy up in the regional.

“I thought overall, we played with a lot more positive energy,” Wilder-Newland said of sectional competition. “We played with more fun and were a little more relaxed. We had some nerves at the beginning of the final, but overall, we bounced back from mistakes and seemed ready to perform.”

If the Cougars win the regional, they will play their semistate match at either Columbus East or Jasper on Oct. 27. Potential opponents include Hauser, Bloomfield, Indianapolis Lutheran and University.

“We have to play our best. Settling for anything would not be good enough, whether it is a win or loss,” Wilder-Newland said. “I think at our best, we can compete and possibly beat these teams. We need to just take care of our business.

“It has been a wonderful season. I just want them to win for them. They really deserve it. They are a good group.”

Trinity has three regional titles in the program’s history. They won three straight from 2010 to 2012. In 2011, the Cougars won the semistate before falling to Wes-Del in the state finals.

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What: Class A volleyball regional

When: Noon and 7 p.m. (championship) Saturday

Where: Loogootee High School

Who: Trinity Lutheran, Tecumseh, Barr-Reeve and Rock Creek Academy

Admission: $7 per session or $10 for all sessions


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